Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Eve party report

I just got back from the Liang family's Christmas Eve party with my parents. Because we already had a party planned for last night, Mom moved it back to New Year's Eve. That means we'll have a proper New Year celebration after all. Sweet!

At any rate, Carol's party was a blast. I got to meet her nieces Ariel and Stephanie for the first time. Emily and Stacey were obviously there too. The girls were playing Scrabble as we arrived; I teamed up with Stacey and almost helped her win. That was the highlight of the evening. :-)

Several other families showed up before it was time for dinner. All of the food was delicious; no wonder it was quickly gone. The girls decorated cookies and watched Friends afterwards; because that wasn't really my thing, I mostly played Super Mario World hacks on my laptop. Until Emily's boyfriend Daniel arrived, I was the only guy at the party aside from the dads. :P

Mom had suggested leaving early as the Liangs are leaving for Tahoe in the morning. However, Carol insisted that we stay until midnight, to which we obliged. Everyone then opened their presents as it was technically Christmas. To our surprise, there were some for us as well: Carol gave me a battery-powered pottery fountain while my parents got coupons for discounted flights. This was definitely a wonderful experience.

The memories from this party will certainly last a long time. It was nice to see the Liangs again after almost a year. Speaking of which, they're coming over on New Year's Day as well. I'm so excited!

Currently listening to: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time soundtrack - Gerudo Valley theme

Monday, December 22, 2008

Tahoe trip report

Christmas break is off to a good start as we went to Tahoe over the weekend. The reason for going there was to see The Nutcracker at MontBleu. The trip was lots of fun!

Day 1

We left around 9 a.m. to catch the 3 p.m. show in Stateline. Dad wanted to leave earlier, but the preparations took longer than expected. I also needed to stop at Berkeley to check out of the dorms for the holidays. However, the process was quick as most people had already left. There was also some traffic, although we managed to get to MontBleu with about half an hour to spare. Thank heavens for small favors.

The show began shortly after we arrived. This was our first time attending a ballet in over 10 years. While I'm not a huge ballet fan, the performance was incredible. The only downside is that we weren't allowed to take pictures.

The package included a night at MontBleu and admission to the Opal Ultra Lounge. After some cup noodles and vegetables for dinner, my family went to the ultra lounge for drinks. There was a DJ and a dance floor. I did my best to not look like a fool. Despite my inability to dance, this was my favorite of the trip.

Mom also wanted to see the art show at the convention center. The event had a live jazz band and complimentary wine. However, our stay was short as we were all tired. The day ended on a positive note: I found out I got an "A" in Stat 157 after checking my grades. Sweet!

Day 2

The three of us headed to Incline Village and checked into Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa and Casino. Our plan was to go to Soda Springs as we hadn't skied in over four years, but the weather changed our minds. On the other hand, Dad took us for a drive around Lake Tahoe. The scenery made for some great pictures.

Back at the hotel, my mother and I watched The Bucket List on our portable DVD player. The movie wasn't that bad despite the critical reviews. Mom then watched A Good Year while I played Super Star Wars on my laptop.

It was then time for dinner. I wanted to try the buffet downstairs, but the price was exorbitant. The food at other restaurants wasn't any cheaper. Greedy bastards. In the end, dinner consisted of smoked salmon and more cup noodles. The evening ended with a stroll around the hotel and a workout in the fitness room.

Day 3

The plan was to go to Soda Springs as the weather had cleared up. However, my family went to Truckee instead as the storm picked up again. But the weather in Truckee started getting even worse, so we high-tailed it out of town and began our drive home.

The fun didn't end there as we stopped at WinCo Foods in Vacaville. The best thing about WinCo is that everything is so cheap. The last stop on the way home was the Hong Kong Seafood Restaurant in San Jose for dinner. The food was absolutely delicious.


This trip wasn't just about the Nutcracker ballet. Even though we didn't ski this time, all of us had a great time. I've posted some pictures from our adventure. They were taken with our new digital camera. :-)

In other news...

The Liang family has invited us over for Christmas Eve. Because we can't be in two places at once, Mom is moving our party back to New Year's Eve. Two parties to look forward to - I'm definitely not complaining!

Update: The pictures are now online.

Currently watching: The Bucket List

Sunday, December 14, 2008

done with the fall semester + holiday break plans

Friday was my last final of the semester. It's hard to believe Christmas break is already here!

One awesome thing is that the Stat 152 professor made the final exam optional. I'm fairly satisfied with my grade and decided to opt out. I certainly wish more professors would do something like this. Well, I can dream, right?

As for our plans, my family is heading to Tahoe this weekend to see the Nutcracker ballet at Montbleu. Though ballet isn't exactly my cup of tea, I'm super excited about the vacation. It's not often that we attend these events!

Mom also had a party planned for New Year's Eve. However, one of the couples will be out of town on that date. Therefore, my mother moved the gathering to New Year's Day after conferring with the other guests. Of course, that means the ball drop will have passed. Celebrating the New Year just isn't the same without the countdown. I guess we'll see how things go.

Other than that, I'll likely spend the rest of the break preparing for the GRE and my spring classes.

Update: It looks like the party will be on Christmas Eve. I'm not sure of our New Year's Eve plans, but this is definitely better than no party at all. :-)

Currently watching: Blade: Trinity

Friday, December 5, 2008

early Christmas presents :-)

Just because Black Friday and Cyber Monday are over doesn't mean the deals are. Case in point, I came home today to find that my father had picked up various goodies while I was at school. The things he got were:

  1. Two LaCie external hard drives with 1 TB of storage each. Considering that one of my hard drives failed last month, Dad figured we needed something to back up our files.
  2. Some Eneloop batteries and a charger. These will go well with my green lasers.
  3. Several Eco-i-Lite Home LED flashlight from Capstone Industries. They're intended for emergency lighting but should still be useful.
  4. A Nikon Coolpix S550 digital camera. This means Mom and I won't have to fight over the Coolpix 5200 anymore. :-)
  5. An Acer Aspire One netbook for himself.
  6. A 22" AOC Envision LCD HDTV monitor. It will allow us to continue watching TV when the digital TV transition comes.

Getting early Christmas presents is always nice. Thanks, Dad!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

the rest of Thanksgiving break...

Just because we had an awesome party for Thanksgiving doesn't mean the rest of the weekend wasn't fun.


Dad wanted to look for Black Friday deals and took us to Fry's Electronics and Wal-Mart after breakfast. He had hoped to buy some hard drives, digital cameras and an iPod. However, they were all sold out; no wonder people are willing to camp out in the parking lot.

Our intention was to visit my cousins Connie and Cathy in the afternoon. But what we didn't know is that the Shiehs already had plans. They were actually just getting ready to leave when we showed up. We didn't want to delay them and only stayed to give them the presents. Seeing that it wasn't too late, my parents and I went hiking in the nearby Stevens Creek County Park instead.

Other than that, I saw the 2007 film Next after before going to bed. The ability to see a few minutes into the future would be cool and terrifying at the same time.


The three of us went hiking again on Saturday morning. This was relaxing as the temperatures were just right.

The Shiehs must have felt bad about turning us away because they invited us over for dinner. That was certainly a pleasant surprise. I then watched Rambo at their house. The movie had lots of great action!


The nice weather allowed us to go on yet another hike. Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park has always been one of our favorite places. The rest of the day was uneventful, although I saw Spider-Man 2 in the evening. So yeah, my Thanksgiving break was awesome.

Having said that, I should probably get back to work as I have two class projects due soon and an upcoming final exam. Peace!

Currently watching: Spider-Man 2

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving party report

You may remember that we had a big Thanksgiving party last year. That was so much fun that we decided to throw another one tonight. Our guests were the Liu, Wang and two Lin families. The Tsaos couldn't come this time, but I'm not going to complain as there were already close to 20 people!

The nice thing about having a potluck is the large variety of food. Here is a picture of the dinner table for those curious. I bought some chocolate Newman-O's and Fig Newmans at Berkeley after figuring it would be a great way to honor the late Paul Newman. The snacks must have been delicious as they were gone in less than 15 minutes.

The party also doubled as a birthday celebration for Charlie, who just turned 16 years old. His parents brought out a huge cake after dinner. Of note is that Charlie also loves fireworks; he and I went to the backyard to light some sparklers later in the evening. It's always nice to meet a fellow fireworks enthusiast. :-)

Charlie's family also brought their Wii. The kids had a great time with Wii Sports and Wii Play in our family room. Even the non-gamers got into the action. I thought the cow-riding mini-game in Wii Play was hilarious. Yet all good things must come to an end: our guests soon began leaving as it was getting late. On the whole, I really enjoyed the gathering. Only five weeks left until New Year's Eve!

This year, I'm thankful for supportive parents, great professors and my religion, Buddhism. While I may not be that devout, I can attest that my faith has gotten me through hard times.

The fun isn't over because there is a chance we'll visit my cousins Connie and Cathy tomorrow. After all, the long weekend has only just started. :-)

Currently listening to: John Denver - Live in the USSR

Sunday, November 16, 2008

damn hard drive failure...

Long story short, the hard drive of my Dell Dimension 3000 failed. The PC started acting up last Thursday and wouldn't boot most of the time. Windows would occasionally load but invariably display the Blue Screen of Death.

Dad took the computer to my uncle Dong (who is good with these things) and was told that the hard drive had died. The good news is that I was able to recover most of my files. While some of them were corrupted, the critical ones were intact. Phew!

Of course, every cloud has a silver lining: I got a shiny new HDD with 466 GB of free space. The downside is that I had to install all those programs and Windows updates again, but that's ultimately better than losing years of data. I'm also extremely lucky that this didn't happen in the middle of an important project. Lesson learned: I should probably start doing regular backups soon.

I did have to miss the dance at Stern last Friday as a result, although that's a relatively minor inconvenience. Oh well, one cannot expect everything to be perfect.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Congratulations, President-elect Obama!

While I normally don't write about politics on this blog, I'm thrilled to learn that Sen. Obama will be the next President of the United States. America has made history by electing its first African-American president. Eight years of Bush is more than enough, so this is certainly nice for a change.

On the other hand, McCain gave an amazing concession speech. I wish more politicians would follow his example. I'm aware that some of his supporters are upset about the results, but the world isn't going to end simply because their candidate of choice didn't win. At least I hope not!

Some people from our residential unit gathered in the TV lounge to watch the election. There was a strong sense of patriotism after the election was called. I saw someone hang an American flag from the window and also heard others blasting patriotic music. If only fireworks were legal here. :-)

In any case, here's to hoping the next four years will be better than how the last eight went!

Currently listening to: Independence Day soundtrack - "End Titles"

Saturday, November 1, 2008

a rather disappointing Halloween...

I'm usually not one to complain, but Halloween kind of sucked. While there were several Halloween-themed events at Berkeley in the past few days, none of them were too exciting.

For example, my residential unit had an amazing haunted house last October. That event was intense and actually made me jump a couple of times. But the one this year was rather boring: the entire "tour" lasted no more than two minutes, and there was absolutely nothing scary about it.

The Monster Bash was also mediocre compared to the one in 2007 - the latter of which was awesome. Case in point, the DJs didn't play any slow songs this time and even seemed irritated when I requested one. The fact that the dance ended five minutes early didn't help the issue. I've posted a review here for those curious.

On the other hand, I met a fellow LUE2 user at the Monster Bash. That was quite unexpected, especially considering that the forum has few members. Talk about a small world!

Currently listening to: "Ghostbusters"

Saturday, October 18, 2008

pictures from Anne's wedding, part 2

I mentioned back in July that my cousin Anne was going to send me pictures from her wedding in Taiwan. The DVD arrived last night and has over 700 high-quality photos. You can view some of them at Flickr. Given that it would take an impractically long time to upload all of pictures, I've posted only the more interesting ones. You're not missing much as most of them are very similar anyway.

In other news...

We had a late birthday dinner for Dad at a Chinese restaurant last night. The reason for the late celebration is that he was busy trying to get rid of a virus on Mom's laptop. Don't these malware writers have anything better to do?

The virus has proven to be so hard to remove that we've taken the computer to my uncle Dong. We're hoping he can fix it for us as he's really good with computers. *fingers crossed*

October 19 update: Dong got rid of the virus. Phew!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Guess who's 23 today?

I'm officially 23 now. It's hard to believe how quickly time flies. You may recall that we had dinner at Olive Garden on the 4th. The reason for the early celebration is that Dad had to leave for a business trip last night.

One of my birthday traditions is to post three fun facts about my childhood. So here they are:

  1. According to my parents, I went on my first and only hunger strike at one month old. The family doctor had recommended that I be fed from a bottle while I only wanted to be breastfed. I kept resisting the infant formula, even after the doctor suggested letting me starve. Mom finally relented after four days. I'd probably have died had it gone on any longer!
  2. I took on the role of Robin Hood during Easter egg hunts. In other words, I stole eggs from other kids to give to those who arrived too late. As you could imagine, the victims weren't too pleased.
  3. Back when I lived in Sunnyvale many moons ago, my family would often go to Ponderosa Park in the afternoon. There was a time when I did something bad - and I actually don't remember what it was - but Mom got mad and made me walk home by myself. Having been to the park many times, I was overconfident and ended up getting lost.

    That was one of the most frightening moments of my childhood. I couldn't simply have called home as this was way before cell phones were commonplace. After what seemed like forever, I managed to find my way home just before my parents decided to call the police. The incident scared Mom so much she promised never to do it again. Good times.

In any case, happy birthday to me and everyone else whose birthday is today!

Currently listening to: "Everytime We Touch" by Cascada

Saturday, October 4, 2008

an early birthday celebration

The weekend is off to a great start as my parents took me to dinner for my 23rd birthday at Olive Garden. I don't actually turn 23 until the 10th; the reason for the early celebration is that Dad will be out of town then.

This was our first time eating at Olive Garden in ages and definitely quite refreshing. I had originally picked Red Lobster, but many of the locations were closed and the nearest one was around 20 miles away in San Jose. Olive Garden wasn't a bad decision as the food was absolutely delicious.

At any rate, I should probably get back to studying as I have a statistics midterm on the 7th. Wish me luck!

In other news...

The CAA had its Dance & Casino Night two days ago. You can read my review of the event here.

Currently listening to: "Omoide wa Okkusenman!"

Monday, September 1, 2008

an uneventful Labor Day weekend...

I'm usually not one to complain, but the Labor Day weekend kind of sucked. The good news is that I was able to relax a bit as my academic workload isn't too heavy at the moment. However, my mother recently hurt her foot and couldn't do much as a result. I certainly hope she recovers soon.

Another unfortunate thing is that my laptop got infected with several viruses. Dad and I spent all of Saturday evening and Sunday morning trying to get rid of them - not exactly my idea of a good time. Some people deserve nothing less than a roundhouse kick to the face from Bruce Schneier.

Other than that, my family did go shopping a few times. So at least the long weekend wasn't that bad. :-)

Currently listening to: Donkey Kong Country soundtrack - "Bonus Room Blitz"

Sunday, August 24, 2008

my last year at Berkeley

I've moved back to Berkeley for the fall semester. It's hard to believe summer is over. These breaks are never long enough. :-(

Though my classes don't start until the 27th, this was the perfect time to settle down. I've met my new suitemates Bryan, Danny and Tyler - all really cool guys. They're definitely the type of people I'd want to be friends with.

The other reason I came back early was to see what Welcome Week had to offer. Welcome Week was pretty fun when I was a freshman. Yet that doesn't seem to be the case this year. For example, the RHA doesn't look like they're having their annual Dance & Casino Night. Damn budget cuts. :-(

On the other hand, the theme of this year's Welcome Week is "games." It just happens that my suitemates brought a ton of video games to our dorm. How appropriate. They said this had nothing to do with the theme, but I'm not complaining!

The summer in review

Long story short, this summer was awesome. For starters, my family went to Yellowstone National Park and the Upper Midwest right after the spring semester ended. The vacation was something I had been looking forward to for a long time. To say we enjoyed it would be an understatement.

Taking Physics 7C at Berkeley was also worthwhile. I learned a great deal of things and met many cool people. The downside is that I had to miss my cousin Anne's wedding in Taiwan, but one cannot have their cake and eat it too.

This was followed by a trip to Southern California. Two days after we got home, Jonathan stayed another night at our house while visiting from Singapore. It was a busy summer for sure!

Summer 2008 statistics

I've decided to post some random statistics for shits and giggles:

Family vacations: 2
Pints of sorbet consumed: 1
Pints of ice cream consumed: 7
Pints of ice cream remaining: 5
Comic books read: 4
Summer classes taken: 1
Dances attended: 1
Cousins that got married: 1
Films seen in the theater: 1
Films seen on DVD: 5
RuneScape XP gained: about 1.5 million

Currently playing: Donkey Kong Country

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

back from Southern California

"He's your brother, right?" -- random drunk lady to Mom

I just got back from Southern California with my parents. The plan was to leave Saturday morning, but the trip was postponed because the hotels were all full. Delays aside, this was a great way to end the summer.

Day 1

The trip began at 10 a.m. with a drive to Paso Robles. Our first stop along the way was Paraiso Vineyards in Soledad. The view from the patio was amazing, making it a perfect picnic spot.

Dad took us to several other wineries after lunch. A funny thing happened at one of them: a woman asked if I was 21 as we were in the parking lot. She then asked my mother if I was her brother. It's obvious she's had too many drinks. That was completely random, but Mom was flattered as it made her feel young again. ^_^

The traffic on the way to Paso Robles was light. There was lots of time to explore the area after checking into the hotel. For dinner, the three of us went to an oceanfront restaurant in Pismo Beach. The food was slightly overcooked but otherwise all right.

Later in the evening, my mother and I watched some movies on our portable DVD player. I saw Sunshine before going to bed.

Day 2

The first stop of the day was Solvang. I had a great time checking out the restaurants and gift shops. Though the pastries looked delicious, nothing here was cheap. High prices aside, Solvang was the highlight the trip. This was followed by lunch at a Japanese restaurant as it was already 1 p.m.

Dad took us to Santa Barbara after lunch. The reason for going there was to visit the University of California, Santa Barbara. The campus was beautiful and had a homely feel. UC Santa Barbara was actually my second choice when I was applying for college.

Our hotel was located in San Luis Obispo. Because it was pretty late, my family had dinner at a Chinese buffet restaurant after unloading our stuff. The food was a bit salty but not too bad as far as Chinese buffets go.

The hotel gave us two free DVD rentals. I chose Blade while my mother preferred comedies. However, because Dad was exhausted and wanted to go to bed, the two of us decided to follow suit so as to not disturb his sleep.

Day 3

I finished watching Blade after breakfast. The final fight scene was pretty cool. :-)

The purpose of coming to San Luis Obispo was to see the California Polytechnic State University campus. Cal Poly is another school I had applied to. I liked UC Santa Barbara better, but that's just me. We then went to downtown San Luis Obispo before heading home.

The rest of the day was uneventful, although we stopped at the Gilroy Premium Outlets so Mom could look at shoes. I guess the stereotype that women love shoes is true. Back in the Bay Area, my family had dinner at Pizz'a Chicago before arriving home.


Considering that we don't go to Southern California often, this was a refreshing experience. Of the places we visited, Solvang was my favorite. I'd love to go there again in the future.

At any rate, I should probably get back to studying as my classes are starting soon. In the meantime, feel free to check out my pictures from the trip.

Update: The pictures are now online.

Currently listening to: The Collector's Series, Volume One by Celine Dion

Saturday, August 16, 2008

new dual-core laptop!

It turns out our trip to SoCal has been postponed. On the other hand, this was the perfect opportunity to check out our new HP Pavilion dv2700 laptop. I was busy studying and didn't have the chance to play with it until now.

The dv2700 has a 2 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 2 GB of RAM and 230 GB of storage. However, the laptop is running Windows Vista. I've heard bad things about Vista but haven't had any trouble so far. Let's hope it stays that way. *crosses fingers*

Currently watching: Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

Friday, August 15, 2008

done with Physics 7C

The summer session at Berkeley has ended. It was a worthwhile experience as I learned a great deal of things. Having said that, Physics 7C wasn't an easy class. I hope I did well on the final exam!

The bad news is that I tripped and damaged my microwave while moving out of the dorms. Though the damage wasn't too bad, my parents are concerned about radiation leaks. That means we'll have to buy a new microwave. Shit happens.

In other news...

Dad is planning a trip to Southern California. It'll be a great way to end the summer. :-)

Currently reading: Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? by Alan Moore

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

God damn script kiddies

Someone seems to have hijacked my Yahoo! and Gmail accounts this morning. The person also changed my security questions in addition to the passwords. I was able to recover my Gmail account with relative ease but had to call customer support to reset my Yahoo! login. Bastards.

The good news is that neither account contained sensitive information. I'm also sure there are no viruses on my computer. That said, the script kiddie deserves a roundhouse kick to the face from both Chuck Norris and Bruce Schneier.

In other news...

On a more positive note, there was a swing dance class at Unit 2 tonight. That was pretty fun even though I only watched and didn't dance with anyone.

Currently listening to: "The Sweet Escape" by Gwen Stefani

Saturday, July 12, 2008

follow-up on Anne's wedding + pictures!

So my mother was in Taiwan for Anne's wedding and to see other relatives. Dad took me to SFO to pick her up after she came back last night. It was great to have her home again, especially considering that she hardly ever goes out of town alone!

The downer is that Dad and I were unable to be there in person. Because it's customary to send a gift when invited to a wedding, my mother gave Lawrence and Anne a red envelope containing $1,000 in our name. Of note is that I was the only one who wrote them a card. As you could imagine, the couple was pleasantly surprised.

Mom was also kind enough to take pictures for me. She didn't want to bring her camera at first but later changed her mind, for which I'm truly grateful. Though many pictures didn't come out too well, there were a few that were good enough to share. Head on over to my Flickr account to see them.

The other thing is that Mom bought me lots of Taiwanese snacks. She also brought back a large box of cookies that was given out to the guests. They're actually quite delicious. Thanks, Mom!

In other news...

A plumber fixed the leak under the sink this morning. So hopefully no more messes on the kitchen floor. *crosses fingers*

Currently playing: The Second Reality Project Reloaded

Sunday, July 6, 2008

4th of July weekend report + Anne's wedding

Mom is currently in Taiwan for my cousin Anne's nuptials and to see my grandfather and uncle. Despite her absence, the 4th of July long weekend wasn't too bad.

Independence day weekend

The good news is that I got to set off fireworks twice - on the 4th and again tonight for Anne's wedding. Dad took me to Newark as TNT Fireworks has locations there. This was a pleasant surprise, although we only bought small items because fireworks aren't cheap in California.

The two of us also went hiking in Stevens Creek County Park yesterday afternoon. Our neighbor Gen's home alarm started going haywire just as we were leaving. The alarm was loud and driving us nuts. To our relief, my father managed to fix it after a few minutes. I'm glad nobody made a noise complaint or anything.

I was helping Dad unclog the kitchen sink earlier today when it started leaking. Upon further inspection, he determined the welds had cracked. Cleaning up the mess wasn't exactly fun.

Other than that, I was busy studying for a Physics 7C midterm that was scheduled for the 10th. However, Prof. Huang later informed us the midterm was postponed. I guess he wanted us to enjoy the long weekend. :-)

Anne gets hitched!

As mentioned earlier, my cousin Anne got married last night. For those wondering, the lucky young man is Lawrence. I'd like to congratulate the couple and wish them all the best for the future.

The downer is that I couldn't attend the wedding because of Physics 7C. Taking even just a few days off would have been risky given the pace of the class. Overseas flights are also ridiculously expensive at the moment. I couldn't justify the costs, especially for a short trip.

I'm super happy for Anne but also a little sad that I couldn't congratulate her in person. That said, I was definitely there in spirit. Just because I had to miss the wedding doesn't mean I can't celebrate - which I did with fireworks. :-)

Perhaps the most important thing is that the wedding was a huge success. From what Mom tells me, there were close to 380 people in attendance. Last but not least, Anne says she'll send us pictures from the reception. I'll post them as soon as they arrive. Watch this space!

Currently listening to: "Turn Me On" by Kevin Lyttle

Thursday, July 3, 2008

an awesome summer dance

There was a Summer Love Prom at Unit 2 last night. While the dances at Berkeley tend to be lame, this one was quite fun. You can read my review of it here. I e-mailed a copy of the review to one of the organizers, to which he informed me that similar events are being planned. Sweet!

Of course, I just had to show off my 35+ mW laser at the dance. The cool thing is that there was another guy who had a green laser. Though mine was more powerful, meeting a fellow laser enthusiast is always exciting. :-)

Currently watching: Alexander

Friday, June 27, 2008

predicting a disappointing 4th of July :-(

The 4th of July has always been one of my favorite holidays. However, that may not be the case this year.

I recently found out consumer fireworks are legal in Fresno. Our family friend Tiffany lives there and says we are more than welcome to visit her on the 4th. But recent gas prices are making it hard to justify the trip. Driving 320 miles to Fresno and back seems rather silly when the gas costs more than the fireworks!

That said, I did buy some party poppers at Target about two weeks ago. Party poppers and bang snaps are considered novelty items and legal in most areas. They don't have the "wow" factor but are better than no fireworks at all.

The other thing is that my cousin Anne is getting married in Taiwan on the 8th. I'm extremely happy for her, considering she is my first maternal cousin to tie the knot. The bad news is that I'll be taking Physics 7C at Berkeley and won't be able to attend the wedding in person.

Although I can take a few days off, this is pretty risky given the pace of the class. The fact that flights to Taiwan are very expensive right now doesn't help the issue. It's a bittersweet situation, but I'll be there in spirit.

Currently listening to: "Feels Like Today" by Rascal Flatts

Saturday, June 21, 2008

back to Berkeley for my summer physics class...

I'm now back at Cal for the summer session. Although Physics 7C doesn't start until the 23rd, I wanted to settle down and get prepared. The move didn't go smoothly as we forgot to bring a computer monitor. That meant Dad had to drive 50 miles home to pick one up and another 50 miles back to campus. Shit happens.

One thing for sure is that Physics 7C is going to be tough. On the bright side - pardon the pun - the curriculum covers one of my favorite subjects: lasers. :-)

June 22 update: I just met my roommate Michael. He's a cool guy who also speaks Mandarin!

Currently reading: Physics for Scientists & Engineers by Douglas C. Giancoli

Monday, June 16, 2008

Father's Day weekend report

The irony is that Dad had to leave for a business trip right before the Father's Day weekend. Believe it or not, being a CEO isn't all fun and games. Having said that, the weekend was all right.

To start off, my friend Lawrence invited me to watch Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull at the theater on the 14th. As an Indiana Jones fan, I really enjoyed the movie. It was my favorite in the series despite the critical reviews.

One of Mom's friends came over yesterday afternoon. I had a great time playing Michael Andretti's Indy Car Challenge with her sons Mark and Spencer. They had planned to visit us again on the 18th, but their mother changed her mind. Oh well.

At any rate, I should probably be preparing for Physics 7C as the summer session at Berkeley starts next Monday for me. Peace.

Currently watching: Michael Andretti's Indy Car Challenge

Monday, June 2, 2008

back from Yellowstone and the Upper Midwest

"Oh my god, that oil refinery is on fire!" -- Mom

Summer has been great so far as we went to Yellowstone National Park and the Upper Midwest right after the semester ended. We left on the 24th and just got back at midnight. The trip was really exciting because I had looked forward to it for a long time. Though I was sick the first few days, everything else was perfect. I hope you enjoy reading my trip report as much as I did writing it.

Day 1

The first leg of the trip was a short flight to Sacramento. The early departure meant we had to get up no later than 4 a.m. The plane was small and felt like a private jet. Other than that, the connecting flight to Denver and the one to Rapid City were mostly uneventful.

It was only 4 p.m. when we arrived at Rapid City Regional Airport, even after losing an hour due to the time change. However, the rest of the day sucked because my cold got worse again. The coughing actually got so bad that I couldn't sleep until my parents went out in the middle of the night to buy medicine. Being sick while traveling is the worst. :-(

Day 2

I felt much better after a good night's rest. All right!

Dad wanted to see what Nebraska was like and took us to Chadron. The city was small and didn't impress us too much. On the other hand, Taco John's had delicious quesadillas.

Back in South Dakota, the Mammoth Site in Hot Springs was our next stop. The tour was a little expensive but very informative. Of note is that the guide had a green laser pointer like mine. Green lasers seem to be becoming increasingly popular these days.

The plan was to go to Wind Cave National Park after the tour. Just then, our GPS gave us wrong directions and took us almost 30 miles out of the way before we realized what was going on. How convenient. It was decided to skip Wind Cave because turning back at this point would have been too much trouble.

In the meantime, my mother suggested going to the Museum of Geology at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City instead. The museum was inexplicably closed despite what the sign and our brochure said. This was certainly one of those WTF moments. Mom thinks the staff are slacking off due to lack of visitors. I wouldn't be surprised.

Dad also wanted to check out North Dakota and took us to Bowman in the evening. Like Chadron, Bowman was a small city with few attractions. Because it was late, the three of us had dinner there. It was almost 11 p.m. when we got back to the hotel.

Day 3

One place I looked forward to visiting was Mt. Rushmore. The faces were photogenic, albeit smaller than I imagined. The fog made the view even better. On the downside, everything here was expensive. Dad paid $16 for a poster that he liked. Yikes!

About 16 miles to the west was Crazy Horse Memorial. The monument is still under construction but will be about 10 times larger than Mt. Rushmore when it's complete. The prices here were much more reasonable. For example, the same box of popcorn sold for $6 at Mt. Rushmore was only $3.50 at Crazy Horse. I couldn't resist the temptation and bought some snacks.

Jewel Cave National Monument was another attraction that caught our interest. However, the two-hour wait for the next tour changed our minds. Mom then suggested going back to Wind Cave. The GPS actually took us to the right place this time!

Seeing that the wait at Wind Cave was much shorter, my parents bought tickets for the Natural Entrance tour. The 75-minute tour was one of the best parts of the trip. The tickets were $9 per person but worth every cent.

Our hotel was located in Belle Fourche. The city is said to be the geographical center of the nation, but there wasn't anything special about the place. I'm guessing it's a gimmick to attract tourists.

Day 4

The highlight of the morning was Devils Tower National Monument. To be honest, the rock wasn't that impressive. On the other hand, the cool weather made for a perfect hike on the Tower Trail that goes around the formation. The fresh alpine air was especially refreshing.

The rest of the day was spent driving. The 300-mile trip to Cody was uneventful - except when we ran over a jackrabbit. Poor thing. There wasn't much we could do as the animal suddenly darted in front of our car. I hope it didn't suffer too much. :-(

Other than that, the scenery in Wyoming was peaceful. That alone made the drive worthwhile.

Day 5

We headed to Yellowstone National Park after a brief stop for pictures at Buffalo Bill Dam. Our first trip to Yellowstone was so much fun that I had always wanted to go there again. This part of the trip was something I had looked forward to for years.

I was eager to test our new digital camcorder after checking into Grant Village. The nearby West Thumb Geyser Basin was the perfect place to do so. However, Dad suggested coming back later when it started to rain. It seems sudden showers aren't uncommon here, especially considering that we were soaked in an unexpected rain at Mammoth Hot Springs 10 years ago!

The rain stopped later in the afternoon, during which we went to explore the park some more. The timing couldn't have been better - we arrived at the Upper Geyser Basin just in time to catch an eruption of Old Faithful. I enjoyed visiting the Midway and Lower Geyser Basins as well.

For dinner, my father had a reservation at the Grant Village Dining Room. The food was rather expensive - the total cost of the meal was around $70 - but everything was delicious. That said, eating a bison meatloaf in Yellowstone did feel a little odd...

Dad suggested returning to the West Thumb Geyser Basin for an evening walk afterwards. This was quite relaxing, although it was hard to see anything in the dark besides the steam from hot springs. I'm not going to lie - the pools of boiling water made the place a little scary at night.

A downside of staying inside the park is that Internet access isn't readily available. The only way to get a connection was through dial-up - which nobody uses anymore. However, that wasn't a problem because Super Metroid and Super Demo World: The Legend Continues kept me occupied. I also saw an episode of MythBusters before going to bed.

Day 6

The three of us went to see more hot springs before heading to Gardiner for lunch. The next stop was a gift shop and Internet café called High Country Trading. The owners were extremely friendly and down-to-earth. I checked my Facebook and looked around the store while my parents enjoyed their coffee. The atmosphere was absolutely wonderful. This was my first time at an Internet café and a neat experience.

Just a few miles south of Gardiner was Mammoth Hot Springs. The cool thing is that we saw a black bear along the way. Lots of people had gathered in the area to see the bear and caused a traffic jam. The rangers had to usher them along.

Upon arriving at Mammoth, I noticed many of the springs were dry - which was unusual but not surprising as Yellowstone is constantly changing. Having said that, the terraces were still a sight to behold. It was also nice to not get soaked in the rain. :-)

The historic Old Faithful Inn awaited us in the evening. There was an old guy in the lounge who was damn good at the piano; no doubt it was the perfect place to relax after dinner. From what I've heard, the inn used to have nightly dances. Though they're not a regular thing anymore, the live music was great.

Day 7

There were a few places that we hadn't seen yet. I only saw a small part of Norris Geyser Basin in 1998 because my parents were tired and wanted to stay in the car. That wouldn't have been a problem, except 12-year-old me was too scared to go in by myself. It was nice to see most of Norris this time around. Although we skipped a few areas due to the hot weather, I don't think we missed much.

Geysers are just one of the things that make Yellowstone so unique. Case in point, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone was another one of our favorite stops. The view from the vista point was breathtaking. Pictures don't do the canyon justice.

Our final destination of the day was the Lake Hotel. Like at the Old Faithful Inn, there was a piano player in the lounge. Several couples even got up to dance. If only I wasn't single. ^_^

Day 8

This was our last day in Yellowstone. I was kind of sad to leave this paradise, but four days here is certainly more than enough. On the subject of which, Dad asked me to find a good route to Buffalo while he went to take a shower. Having recently taken some IEOR classes, I decided to put my skills to the test and calculate the shortest path using Dijkstra's algorithm. That turned out to be overkill and took me much longer than expected. Dad still won't let me live it down. :\

The plan was to head directly to Buffalo. However, my father wanted to stop in West Yellowstone first and took a route that added 150 miles to the trip. The extra drive was worth it because West Yellowstone was quite nice. I loved browsing the shops even though nothing was cheap.

The buffet at Golden Corral in Billings was filling. A sign for a place called Pictograph Cave State Park caught my eye as we left town. It sounded interesting but had closed for the day when we arrived. On the bright side - pardon the pun - we witnessed a beautiful sunset during a break from driving. This was one of those special moments. Mom didn't realize it was a sunset at first and actually thought the nearby oil refinery was on fire. Oh dear!

It was almost midnight when we got to our hotel. All of us were exhausted and soon went to bed.

Days 9 and 10

Our first stop on Sunday was the D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery in Spearfish. Unlike most hatcheries, this one had a natural feel. I liked it a lot and wouldn't have minded staying longer. Dad even bought a refrigerator magnet at the gift shop before leaving.

The journey brought us back to Rapid City in the afternoon. Speaking of which, the Museum of Geology was open this time. The museum was small but had countless exhibits, not to mention free admission. This was a worthwhile visit as geology has always fascinated me. I could easily spend the entire day here.

It was finally time to return the airport to catch a plane to Denver. This was followed by another flight back to San Francisco. Despite regaining an hour due to the time change, the three of us didn't get home until just past midnight. So that technically makes the trip 10 days long. :P


To say we had fun is an understatement. Of the places we visited, Yellowstone National Park was my favorite. That said, the Wind Cave tour was really fun too. Aside from being sick the first few days, I can't think of anything bad about this trip.

One thing Dad had always wanted to do was take my grandfather Bien-Chuan on a road trip to the Rockies. That was supposed to happen during his 1996 visit, but the trip was canceled for financial reasons. Bien-Chuan sadly passed away in 2004 after a battle with cancer. I guess some dreams don't come true. On a happier note, I'm sure Grandpa was with us in spirit. :-)

Our 1998 trip was so awesome that I had always wanted to go back to Yellowstone. Although the novelty is gone, I enjoyed this trip even more. Our next visit to Yellowstone may not happen for years, but the memories from this trip will last a lifetime. Last but not least, be sure to check out the photos and videos from our adventure. I spent hours uploading them!

Update: The photos and videos are now online.

Currently listening to: "Down on the Corner" by Creedence Clearwater Revival

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

new digital camcorder!

Dad recently bought a Sony Handycam DCR-SR46 digital camcorder at Costco. I've posted a picture of it here. The DCR-SR46 is really nice, especially with the 40x optical zoom and 40 GB of built-in storage. It also has an ergonomic design. I'm definitely taking it on our trip to Yellowstone. Expect some new videos on my YouTube channel soon. :-)

That said, this thing has lots of features and will take a while to get used to. At least I have a few days to study the manual. Haha.

Stop! Summer time!

Yesterday was the last final of the semester. Having finished the school year, I've moved my stuff home with the help of my parents. Woohoo!

The bad news is that I'm short on credits and can't graduate just yet. Because many classes fill up quickly due to high demand, I ended up taking fewer courses per semester than normally required. This does mean I'll have to stay at Berkeley for another year or so. On the bright side, I've been told that "super seniors" aren't that uncommon. :-)

The other unfortunate thing is that someone seems to have stolen my watch. Or at least that's what I think happened. I've always kept it on the table next to my monitor, but it was nowhere to be seen when I moved out. Fuck those bastards.

On a more positive note, my family is leaving for Yellowstone and the Upper Midwest in a couple of days. The trip is something I've been looking forward to for a long time. I'm so excited!

In any case, I should probably head to bed as it's almost 2 a.m. here. Good night, y'all.

In other news...

I went to a black light dance at Bowles two Saturdays ago. It was pretty fun despite the lack of slow songs. You can read my review of the event here.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I just won $40 worth of gift cards!

Our residential hall holds a meeting every Tuesday to plan student events, such as dances and fundraisers. To promote attendance, the organizers give out raffle tickets at every meeting to anyone that dresses up according to the theme. Though I could never come up with a costume, they still gave me a ticket each time given my past participation.

Well, the raffle drawing was tonight. The cool thing is that I won not one, but two prizes: a $10 gift card for iTunes and a $30 one for Target. I guess luck was on my side.

In any case, I'd like to thank the Hillside Hall Association for making this possible and being so damn generous. :-)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

my first YouTube video

I just uploaded my first YouTube video. It's a clip of my 35+ mW green laser from Wicked Lasers igniting a match. Please excuse the resolution as the video was recorded with an old webcam.

Although this is the only video on the channel so far, there will certainly be more to come. Speaking of which, I'm hoping to get a digital camcorder soon. :-)

Currently listening to: "Secret Melody" by DJ Toxic

Sunday, March 30, 2008

2008 spring break report

I'm now back at school as spring break has come to an end. The break was somewhat more stressful because all my current courses are fairly challenging. Case in point, I spent most of the week preparing for the upcoming IEOR 131 midterm.

That said, the week wasn't too bad. I went to the library to borrow some movies, although there weren't any good ones aside from The Bourne Ultimatum this time. On the other hand, "Our Worlds at War" by DC Comics was a great read. I didn't know comic books could be so enjoyable. Last but not least, my family went hiking several times and also went out for dinner twice. :-)

I did have to go to the doctor's office twice for annual health examinations, though. Blood tests are not fun.

Currently listening to: "Hips Don't Lie" by Shakira

Monday, February 18, 2008

Presidents Day weekend report

I'm now back at Berkeley as the Presidents Day long weekend has ended. Though I don't have classes on Tuesdays, I came back today as there are some things that I want to discuss with my professors tomorrow.

The break was pretty awesome. To start off, my parents and I went hiking in Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park on Saturday morning. Seeing that the weather was still nice, the three of us also went to Stevens Creek County Park yesterday afternoon. It's not often that we go hiking twice a weekend!

The Shiehs then invited us to their house for dinner. I saw several episodes of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and a few other shows after the meal while Cathy tried to get me to watch Mean Girls with her. While chick flicks aren't my cup of tea, I'd have watched it with my cousin if I didn't have to go home. ^_^

In other news...

I didn't feel like making another post, but the Jau family also invited us over on the 9th to celebrate Chinese New Year. It was a full house as many of their friends and relatives were there. That was pretty fun too!

Currently watching: Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

Sunday, February 3, 2008

an early Chinese New Year celebration

The fact that Lunar New Year is on a weekday means I'll be at school. On the other hand, our family friend Mei invited us over for dinner last night. :-)

It was a lively gathering as the Lees had some other friends over as well. The best part is that I got to watch parts of Fantastic Four with Eddie. All of the food was delicious too. I don't think I've ever enjoyed Chinese New Year this much.

Dad wasn't feeling well and decided to stay home, but Mom and I made sure to save some food for him. Speaking of which, you can head on over to the Lee family's website to see a video of what we ate. Please note that I'm not responsible for any drool on your keyboard. ^_^

It's a bit unfortunate that I have to go back to Berkeley tonight, but at least Presidents Day is coming up in two weeks. W00t!

Currently watching: Fantastic Four

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

back in action at Berkeley

I just moved back to Berkeley tonight. For those wondering, I'm taking Engineering 28, IEOR 131 and IEOR 165 this semester.

The break in review

The holiday season had to be one of the best ever. For one thing, I did particularly well last fall; my grades were all in the "B" range. Considering that nothing at Berkeley is a breeze, all that studying must have paid off. The break itself had a good start as my family went on a three-day trip to Oregon just after the semester ended. The vacation was kind of short but lots of fun.

I borrowed a bunch of movies from the local library right after Christmas. Hellboy was hilarious and had lots of great action. Serenity and War of the Worlds weren't too bad either. United 93 was pretty good as well despite the limited budget. I also saw Escape from New York and Phone Booth during that weekend. The DVD for Blade: Trinity was damaged, but this wasn't a big deal as the library has other copies.

One of Dad's professors at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was visiting with his family and their son's fiancée. Therefore, my parents invited all of them to dinner at By-Th'-Bucket Bar & Grill on the 28th. This was followed by an awesome party for New Year's Eve. The gathering was undoubtedly a great end to a great year.

Just as 2007 ended with a bang, 2008 started with one. We went to Carol's winter party on the 5th before leaving for Las Vegas the next morning. Dad's boss Kah Yee's son Jonathan then stayed a night at our house on the 12th during his visit from Singapore. I then got my driver's license two days later. W00t!

Aside from preparing for my classes, I visited the library another three times and got several more movies. Superman Returns was my favorite, but Firewall and the remakes of Assault on Precinct 13 and King Kong were great too. 28 Weeks Later was all right, although the first movie was better. I also saw The Chronicles of Riddick and Rules of Engagement before the break ended. It was a busy holiday season for sure.

All that having been said, I should probably get back to studying. Peace, y'all.

Currently watching: Superman Returns

Monday, January 14, 2008

I got my driver's license!

I took the road test at the Redwood City DMV this morning. The exam was about 20 minutes long; I was extremely nervous the whole time but managed to pass on the first attempt. This wouldn't have been possible without the help of my parents; I definitely owe them a lot.

Considering that I'm 21 years old, this was long overdue. Better late than never, I suppose. One thing for sure is that I can already check off one of my New Year's resolutions. :-)

The exam didn't go without a hitch. For one thing, the 1998 BMW 528e suddenly died in the middle of an intersection. Given the car's age, this wasn't completely unexpected but still scared the hell out of me. I was fortunately able to turn on the warning lights and restart the engine. As far as I could tell, the examiner didn't deduct any points for it.

The other thing is that I took a wrong turn near the end of the test. Though I wasn't supposed to stop at the DMV office, I was so excited that I thought the test was over and turned into the parking lot. The examiner got a little mad but still let me pass, much to my surprise and relief. This was certainly one of those "D'oh!" moments. I'm glad I didn't have to do the whole test over.

You might wonder why I got my license so late. The reason is that I don't commute often and never really felt the need to drive. However, my parents had always encouraged me to get my license; after all, they shouldn't have to do all the work when we go on road trips!

All that having been said, I'll do my best to be safe. I won't run over any grandmas, I promise. :-)

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Las Vegas trip report

"Um, Mom... that's the porn convention." -- me

I got back from Las Vegas this morning. Dad had to go to the Consumer Electronics Show and decided to take us along so we could also enjoy the trip. I'm definitely not complaining!

Day 1

The trip began with an afternoon flight to Las Vegas on US Airways. I felt a bit nauseous on the plane due to the turbulence. Considering that I don't get airsick often, this was probably the result of not getting enough sleep the night before. That's what happens when you party too much. ^_^

The Las Vegas Monorail brought us to the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino, our hotel for the next three nights. The evening was uneventful aside from dinner at the Sbarro downstairs. The baked ziti was delicious, though.

Day 2

The CES was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Mom and I had planned to explore the Las Vegas Strip on our own as the show is generally closed to the public. However, there was a change of plans after Dad managed to get us in. He wanted us to see what the CES was like, so that's what we did instead. Getting our badges took quite some time due to the sheer number of people. This was followed by lunch as it was already past noon.

It was just the two of us as Dad was in a meeting. The LVCC was huge; there were at least hundreds of vendors. The OEM companies were concentrated in the first hall. I enjoyed playing Quake 4 at one of the booths. One funny moment was when Mom almost walked into the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo by accident. Oops!

We met up with Dad after taking the shuttle back to Monte Carlo. All of us then went to Chin Chin at New York-New York Hotel & Casino for dinner. Though inexpensive, the food wasn't exactly stellar: the entrées were too salty for our taste, and the raspberry mousse cake was so greasy that I didn't have much of an appetite until the following afternoon. Blah.

Day 3

The three of us returned to the CES after breakfast. Mom and I were on our own again as Dad had to go to more meetings. Continuing where we left off, the second hall featured consumer products. One of the vendors had Unreal Tournament 3 on a high-end gaming PC - that was pretty fun too. I saw Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare at another booth but didn't feel like waiting my turn. Intel and Microsoft also had cool exhibits. It was 1:50 p.m. when we were done looking around.

The last hall awaited us after lunch. You're going to laugh at this, but here goes: there was an attractive booth babe that I wanted a picture with. I was about to go up to her when a guy from the booth came to talk me, presumably to deliver a sales pitch.

You see, I'm awkward around girls when other people are around. That wouldn't have been so bad, except the girl simply walked away without a word. She was standing there and must have known I wanted a picture with her. What a bitch. It's not like I was asking her out, but being rejected in front of my mother was downright embarrassing.

Dad met up with us at the hotel as the show winded down. We had dinner before hitting the slots. This was my first trip to Vegas since reaching the legal gambling age. I put in $3 and got back $4.10 after about 10 minutes. A whopping $1.10 profit - not bad for my first time at a casino.

Day 4

Today was relatively uneventful as we had an early flight back to San Jose. The flight was fairly smooth, although the shuttle ride home was longer than expected due to an accident on I-880.


I had no idea the CES could be so fascinating. The highlight of the trip was playing the slots. I certainly owe that security guy for telling us that playing multiple lines improves the odds. While $1.10 isn't much, the anticipation of winning is what makes gambling so exciting. One thing I learned from this trip is that business travel can be fun. :-)

At any rate, I should probably be preparing for my classes as the spring semester starts in less than two weeks. In the meantime, you can see a few pictures from the CES here.

Currently listening to: "Hooked on a Feeling" by David Hasselhoff

Sunday, January 6, 2008

an impromptu candle party

The new year has been off to a good start as we just got back from a party at our family friend Carol's house. It was supposed to be a potluck dinner, but the recent storm caused the electricity to go out just before we arrived. Oh dear!

Due to the lack of power, everything had to be done by candlelight. Our activities were thus limited, although I got to hang out with Stacey after dinner. The whole thing made for a memorable experience as it's not every day that this happens!

In any case, I should probably head to bed soon as my family is leaving for Las Vegas later in the morning. I'll post a trip report when we get back on the 9th.

Currently playing: American McGee's Alice

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy 2008!

It feels like 2007 has just started, yet 2008 is already here. So happy New Year!

New Year's Eve party report

Last night was pretty exciting as Mom invited lots of people over. There were new and familiar faces; our guests were the Liu, Wang and Tsao families, and Michelle and her mother. The latter two left early because Michelle is a morning person, but everyone else stayed for the countdown. I guess they finally got it right.

One memorable moment of last year's party was playing Spoons. That was so much fun that we did it again - this time with a twist: the loser had to dance to Soulja Boy or do the "Chicken Dance" for 10 seconds. Even the host of the party wasn't spared. I opted for the "Chicken Dance" because it made me look less like a fool. :P

All of us then gathered in the living room for karaoke. Though I'm a lousy singer, Tony gave me the microphone. I ultimately had a great time belting out "Dancing Queen" with the other kids. Jerry happens to be a tenor in a professional choir and showed everyone how it's done. He was no doubt the life of the party.

As the clock struck midnight, the older folks had a champagne toast while the rest of us set off party poppers. Having turned the legal drinking age last year, I got to taste champagne for the first time. This was definitely a new experience for me.

Yet all good things must come to an end. The guests left shortly afterwards as most people didn't want to party too hard. I helped with the cleanup before going to bed. On the whole, this gathering was even better than our 2006 one.

2007 in review

One highlight of 2007 was our trip to Colorado in August. I never knew the Rockies could be so beautiful. The trip to Taiwan and China was also enjoyable as we visited many places and reconnected with relatives.

There isn't much to complain about, except when my RuneScape account got banned in October. Although the ban was lifted a week later, Jagex never reinstated my player moderator status. However, I'm not going to lose too much sleep as getting my account back was the most important thing.

I'd say my New Year's resolutions for 2007 were overall a success. Case in point, my grades for the last semester were fairly good. Of course, there is always room for improvement as nobody is perfect. On the subject of which, my goals for 2008 are to get my driver's license, spend less time on the Internet and continue to do well in school.

All that having been said, I'd like to wish everyone a wonderful and prosperous new year. I should probably head to bed soon as it's already past 1 a.m. Take care, y'all.

Currently listening to: Every Breath You Take: The Classics by the Police